"We talk about it as if it's a very simple solution: If someone is very abusive to you, you just walk away. If you are economically dependent on someone and you depend on them to pay the bills, if they're paying the mortgage or the rent or putting food on the table, or if you're the one working and you can't afford child care, that makes it harder to leave."Kaminsky says we shouldn't be so quick to judge from outside a relationship.
And all of us can have blinders on when it comes to love.
And reproductive coercion — tampering with your birth control or pressuring you to get pregnant — is another common abuse tactic, with 1 in 3 women in abusive relationships also experiencing reproductive abuse, and 1 in 8 women who aren't in otherwise abusive relationships reporting such coercion. If someone abuses you, it's an obvious decision to leave the relationship."Conversations about domestic violence always come back to, 'Why does the woman stay?
'" says Michelle Kaminsky, the lawyer that Brooklyn district attorney Kenneth Thompson appointed as the chief of the DA's office's Domestic Violence Bureau.
"It really has long-term impacts on a woman, and it takes a really long time to heal from."While still common, incidences of domestic violence, along with other crimes, have decreased significantly since the mid-'90s.
There's less social acceptance of it; women are more economically independent and mobile and therefore better able to leave; and there are more services for survivors, including Ray-Jones's hotline, which you can call at 1-800-799-7233 or find online (they also do live chats).
It's easier to judge why other people stay in a relationship than to understand that human relationships are complex, and for the people in abusive ones, the abuse is not necessarily what defines the relationship."There's also legitimate fear that separating from their partner will lead to more violence, given that women in abusive relationships are most at risk when they try to leave."What people don't realize is that when there's domestic violence, the fear is real," Ray-Jones says.
"We live in an age where there's so much technology and so much access to media that we're able to hear those stories of the husband who killed his wife and kids.
"One woman told me, 'I can still hear his voice in my head.
Even though I've been out of the relationship for three years, I feel like I'm still sitting there,'" Ray-Jones says.
We know in domestic violence relationships there are a lot of threats made — 'I'm gonna take the kids, I'm gonna hurt you.' Women know that isn't an empty threat." Instead of asking why women don't leave, we should make it easier for them to do so."We need to have the resources out there to make it easier for women to leave," Kaminsky says.